Technology Showcase: Turnkey Digital Signage

All-in-one systems simplify digital-signage solutions. 6/01/2008 8:00 AM Eastern

Technology Showcase: Turnkey Digital Signage

Jun 1, 2008 12:00 PM, By Bennett Liles

All-in-one systems simplify digital-signage solutions.

Cisco Digital Media Player

Cisco Digital Media Player

The digital-signage arena has seen explosive growth — and now there is a solution to meet every budget, strategy, and hardware preference. Every conceivable configuration has been marketed from software-only to hardware displays with entire playback and network interface circuitry built into the chassis. For clients who wish to use only the lightest and simplest local play-and-control system, there are units that include the display, media storage, and programming interface in one bolt-in-and-go package. More sophisticated and capable options include units that can operate in a single, local mode and expand as needed with network connectivity and centralized control, content creation, and scheduling capabilities.

The number of companies offering solutions within this vast range has also expanded exponentially, presenting something of a challenge in defining manageable criteria for inclusion in this survey. We look here at those turnkey digital-signage solutions that include both a hardware and a software component in the system. In some of these, the software is the media player and the hardware is the display device. Others have embedded software in hardware devices and market a software application that functions as a controller, scheduler, and/or content producer and editor. In an industry in such a state of flux, it probably pays to examine systems that offer expandability within the client's chosen hardware/software mix. Also, consideration must be given to the method of distribution because there is a huge variety of options here as well. Twisted-pair carrying local network or general IP traffic, RF on coax, wireless, and other methods all offer an initially confusing but ultimately custom-fitted solution for any signage need in retail, academic, medical, and other applications.


AdMart Custom Signage offers a whole range of solutions for digital signage including networked and standalone systems. The All-In-One system is a self-contained, standalone unit available in a variety of screen sizes from the DM7 7in. LCD screen with 640×480 resolution up to the 18in. DM18 with 1280×1024 resolution. Programming and content are recorded onto memory cards, which are inserted into the display. AdView Dynamic Messenger then turns a series of JPEG images on the card into a digital slideshow. Full-motion MPEG video files may also be used. Each of the models has built-in speakers, remote, and password protection.

AGN Professional oneBox HD

AGN Professional oneBox HD

For standard- and high-definition AVC/H.264 and MPEG-2 playback files, Adtec Digital offers the edje 4111 HD digital media player and mediaControl configuration and control software application for Windows or Mac. The 4111 HD has an 80GB internal disk storage capacity and playback aspect ratio of either 4:3 or 16:9. Video output is composite or DVI-I audio outputs include S/PDIF digital audio (RCA female) and unbalanced analog stereo audio (1/8in. female). Control options include Ethernet and RS-232. The mediaControl application includes List Builder and Configuration functions.

The oneBox HD rackmount digital-signage appliance from AGN Professional plays a number of MPEG formats along with AVI, WMV, and MOV formats and .mp3, .wav, .aif, and .wma audio files. The unit has a built-in web-based content-authoring and -management system that can create multizone layouts in 4:3 or 16:9 aspect ratios with text, graphics, movies, animations, RSS feeds, and live TV/video in resolutions up to 1900x1280. Storage is handled by an 80GB internal 7200 RPM SATA II hard drive and a DVD-RW. There are also USB and FireWire connections.

Amptronix markets more than half a dozen different industrial-grade advertisement LCD systems in its AD Series. The largest of these is the 32in. AD320M, which uses a 1366×768 TFT active-matrix LCD with support for a wide range of memory cards. The unit can display JPEG; AVI; and MPEG-1, -2, -3, and -4 files. The programming can generate automatic slideshows with multiple transition effects and adjustable screen time. There is a remote control included and a USB interface option. Built-in speakers and a tough chassis make the AD Series ideal for outdoor applications such as gas stations and drive-throughs.

Technology Showcase: Turnkey Digital Signage

Jun 1, 2008 12:00 PM, By Bennett Liles

All-in-one systems simplify digital-signage solutions.

Exhibio Compact Form Factor

Exhibio Compact Form Factor

Through its Inspired Signage line, AMX can provide a complete signage package with its Inspired Player software for multizone display at up to 1920×1080 resolution; the Inspired Player Server, a native NetLinx device designed for 24/7 operation; Inspired Composer, a content management interface able to manage multiple destinations with full user rights and restrictions; and the Inspired Babel application, which enables integration of the system with any data source to dynamically push/pull realtime information into content playlists.

The Xpander from Applica through its division SmartAVI is a PCI card with a 15-pin VGA video interface that can display any file that can be played on a Windows PC. The unit can fill a videowall with one image or put a separate display on 64 screens. Presentations may expand, contract, or move to any location or size on the videowall, which may also display live RSS feeds from the Internet while a video presentation is playing. With the Xpander software, any Windows XP or Vista PC or 2003 server can manage the videowall or serve as an Internet gateway, through which the videowall may be managed remotely via the Internet over TCP/IP.

The Emerge MPX1000 transmitter and Emerge MPX1500R receiver from Avocent offer a solution for multipoint distribution of high-def digital-signage applications to as many as eight display locations in a wired or wireless distribution link. They support HDMI video and embedded audio and digital and analog computer graphics with analog audio and component video. Avocent's system management and diagnostic software works with an onboard web server that allows browser-based unit control and configuration while the front-panel display provides push-button access to system status.

CE Labs offers the HD300ZX high-def digital media player as a light and quick solution for converting a local display device into a digital-signage system. Downloading via Ethernet, USB, or CompactFlash, the unit can store content on an optional 40GB-to-200GB hard disk and play back MPEG -1, -2, or -4; Divx HD; WMV 9; and WMV HD. The HD300ZX presents a user-friendly graphical interface for easy playlist operation, and it can use Internet updates with the CE Labs Flight Content Manager Software.

Real Digital Media Neocast

Real Digital Media Neocast

The latest model in the long line of video graphics information display systems from Chyron is the ChyTV HD 100 with an internal MPEG clip player. The unit can display video in various windows or superimpose text messages over video backgrounds. Fullscreen graphics can be displayed with dynamic text, logos and animations, text pushes, fades, and crawls in landscape and portrait display modes. A playlist scheduler provides versatile programming capability, and the ChyTV Tools application enables direct control of multiple ChyTV 100 units. For realtime updates, there are USB and Ethernet ports.

Cisco's Digital Media System can be used as a complete digital-signage application using all of its components — including the Digital Media Player, the Digital Media Manager software application, and the Digital Media Encoder 2000. The Digital Media Player is an IP-based device that delivers HD broadcasts, Flash animations, graphics, text, tickers, and other web content. The Digital Media Manager is the central management application for all Cisco Digital Media System Products. It allows for content creation, playlist scheduling, and administrator and user accounts. The D9032 Encoder delivers high-quality MPEG-4 video optimized for efficient transmission.

The SSV-304 SignStream media player from Contemporary Research can broadcast up to four HDTV signage channels and display control commands over RF coax. The unit plays 1080i ATSC MPEG-2 transport streams from a 250GB SATA hard drive through slide-in SSM-ATSC HDTV Modulator Cards housed in its chassis frame. These are independently programmed with the SignStream Media Express software. Browser-based SignStream Media Express web pages manage playlists, media libraries, and system setup, while event scheduling assigns playlists, starts and stops media, and controls displays.

Enseo markets the 1RU rackmounted Channel Gfx for combining live video, MPEG-1 and -2, bitmap graphics, graphic sequences, and web surfaces along with scrolling text, crawling text, and effects. Facilitating this is Enseo's included Author and On the Air software, which presents its theme-generator user interface with graphic overlay of web content. Also available are alpha blending and chroma key and NTSC/PAL outputs in a very versatile content-creation package.

For easy setup and configuration of a digital-signage system, Exhibio offers its Compact Form Factor digital player with file support for WAV, MP3, AIF, and WMA audio along with Flash, PowerPoint, BMP, GIF, and JPEG graphics and MPEG-1, -2, and -4; WMV; and MOV video formats up to 1920x1080 resolution. The unit also has USB and FireWire ports. The Exhibio Manager application provides an intuitive interface for users at any skill level to create custom multimedia mixes with audio, video, RSS feeds, scrolls, and stills using background templates.

GestureTek has added an interactive angle to digital-signage applications with its ScreenXtreme immersive interactive digital-signage system that can be used alone or added to any existing signage setup. Upgraded to work with Active X controls, the system allows passersby to become part of the display through a camera-capture method and then to control the background in the display by moving their arms and hands. ScreenXtreme comes with more than 30 preprogrammed special effects — including effects that simulate swimming underwater, juggling objects, or wiping away a hazy mist to clear the view.

Technology Showcase: Turnkey Digital Signage

Jun 1, 2008 12:00 PM, By Bennett Liles

All-in-one systems simplify digital-signage solutions.

The InfoCaster from Harris, consists of the content-creation system, a network manager, and an InfoCaster player. The content-creation software allows a user to import graphics, set them into any screen region, scale video, and create hooks to constantly changing data such as stock tickers and sports scores. The network manager facilitates changes in network scheduling, generates logs for verification, and includes specific query generation for quick information crafting. Hardware consists of the InfoCaster DS1000 with an Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 processor, a 250GB SATA hard drive, DVI monitor ports, USB ports, and RJ-45s for network connectivity.

The MediaXtreme Broadcast system from Keywest Technology is an automated playout server with CV/YC input, NTSC/ATSC digital tuner, video tuner, video PIP, video keyer, DVI, RGBHV, composite video output, and MediaZone software. The MXB-AV comes with a built-in video player, character generator, crawl generator, and logo inserter. It also includes a media scheduler that supports a variety of files for playback individually or in sets. With the MediaZone editor, media assets can be imported from the clipboard and placed onto the user-configurable template for playing fullscreen or in user-defined screen zones.

The Aavelin from MagicBox includes the Aavelin player unit and Aavelin Composer software application. The player provides 24/7 standalone playback of more than 10,000 pages with up to four simultaneous crawls, Flash playback, four-input video switcher, three-input audio switcher, video-in-window, and MPEG playback. The Composer application offers 100 backgrounds and the ability to import more graphics in standard formats, a multitude of transition effects, and a calendar-based playback scheduler to coordinate showing. The optional new E-Blast software allows remote access of multiple systems.

MediaTile's 47in. Digital-Sign-in-a-Box is just that. The hardware is based on a 47in. LCD display with optional touchscreen with an embedded fanless computer fully configured with media-player software and a built-in Internet connection with LAN, cellular broadband, or Wi-Fi support. There is also a web-based control portal called the MediaTile Broadcast Portal. In addition to handling all the popular file types, there is support for dynamic RSS and Flash, multizone playlist configurations, and remote monitoring and maintenance. The player has 32GB storage and “files played” logging.

The RetailTV system from Panasonic uses interactive touchscreen LCD panels to immerse the user into the signage experience. These displays can show fullscreen graphics, multiwindow screens, or multiple plasma display walls. The controlling computer connects via network with local players. The NMstage digital-signage software allows the user to schedule and manage content with dynamic realtime multiwindow configuration. Using a calendar timeline, content managers can schedule which players will play selected messages and how the screen will be organized with content including video files, Flash files, websites, and PowerPoint slides.

Taking advantage of the FCC mandate that every large, HD-capable display have a built-in digital tuner, the StoreCaster/HD with Multi-Channel high-definition digital-signage server from Periocast delivers live and stored HD video in storefront windows and other public venues using RF transmission over coax cable with frequency-agile VHF 8VSB or QAM RF modulators. The StoreCaster/HD with Multi-Channel can transmit up to four different programmed channels simultaneously. The system features a 19in. rackmount case, and it supports all ATSC formats including 720p and 1080i. The system will up convert and remux any rate DVI-ASI transport stream to an ATSI-compatible rate.

The iS40 from Planar Systems is marketed as the first true plug-and-play digital sign. The 40in. LCD display is combined with all the integrated software and electronics necessary to deploy a digital sign out of the box. The unit then functions as a node on the CoolSign network. CoolSign software allows importation of media content, management and scheduling of play through a simple drag-and-drop interface and push to screens along with monitoring of network playback performance. The display offers WXGA resolution in 16:9 aspect ratio, 1GB of internal memory, control through the CoolSign network or a local IR remote, and a Windows XP embedded operating system.

Technology Showcase: Turnkey Digital Signage

Jun 1, 2008 12:00 PM, By Bennett Liles

All-in-one systems simplify digital-signage solutions.

Prism Technologies markets the interACT media player to provide an interactive experience for users on a large touchscreen display through dynamic content with realtime and context-driven capability. The unit can show an “attract loop” and provide in-depth information in a customer-driven interactive mode. Flexible scheduling and playlist manipulation are complemented by extensive tracking and usage-reporting features. Media may be displayed in either landscape or portrait formats in all sizes, and there is also support for peripherals such as card swipes, security mats, and printers along withan optional integration option for back-office applications.

The Neocast media player from Real Digital Media combines video, audio, and graphic storage with control and playback features in formats including MPEG-1, -2, and -4; DIVX; VOB; PNG; JPEG; GIF; and basic Flash. The player is controlled through the Neocast Media Server Software for configuration, sidebar, and ticker positioning; playout logging; and distribution of digital content using standard Internet protocols. The player's video output is analog VGA for resolutions up to 1600x1200 along with S-Video and composite video in PAL or NTSC. A 40GB IDE hard drive stores up to 50 hours of content internally.

The Roku BrightSign solid-state media player for digital-sign applications supports standard- and high-definition video, stills, music, and interactivity. The standard-definition video solution supports resolution up to 1024×768, while the high-definition solution delivers MPEG video up to 1080i. A BrightSign unit may be operated by just inserting a removeable flash card and running video, audio, and stills using playlists. The unit has its own internal operating system that can be used to add interactive buttons, touchscreens, mice, and rollovers with BrightScript, a scripting language designed specifically for kiosks and digital-signage applications.

A VitalCast digital-signage solution from Texas Digital consists of a VitalCast server, the VitalCast Content Manager, and the various displays at the end of the network. A complete system includes all media player PC hardware and peripherals, LCD plasma displays, software licenses, training, and support. The displays range from a 20in. LCD to a 42in. plasma. The content may include still graphics; video; audio; web pages; Acrobat documents; Word and PowerPoint files; live video from TV, cable, satellite, and webcams; and DVD/VHS playback. Local and network control extends to selecting the displays to receive various files and scheduling of the content playback on a 24/7 basis.

Triveni Digital has recently released a new version of the Ensignia Digital Signage Lobby, a standalone, self-contained digital-signage solution for scenarios requiring a single display screen. Installation consists of merely mounting the screen, powering it and connecting a PC to operate its MediaManager application, which manages and schedules digital content on an Ethernet LAN with the Lobby system and controls the content onscreen. The Lobby unit is equipped with an integral Windows XP operating system along with an 80GB hard disk, and the system accepts a 10/100 BaseT Ethernet input and delivers VGA and HDMI video outputs.

More Information

AdMart Custom Signage

Adtec Digital

AGN Professional





CE Labs



Contemporary Research





Keywest Technology





Planar Systems

Prism Technologies

Real Digital Media


Texas Digital

Triveni Digital<

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